PETA sends letter to Polk about trapping law

Published 2:31pm Friday, February 8, 2013

Call-in to governor organized today

A local bill currently in the hands of N.C. legislators to allow steel trapping in Polk County has received national attention from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).

PETA sent a letter to the Polk County Board of Commissioners on Feb. 4 saying it had been inundated with calls and emails from area residents concerned about House Bill 33. If passed House Bill 33 would lift the current ban in Polk County on the use of steel traps to catch furbearers.

Polk residents have organized a call-in to N.C. Governor Pat McCrory today to urge the state not to approve the bill.

“Respectfully, steel-jaw traps (even rubber-coated/padded ones) are exceedingly cruel, causing immense distress and pain,” said Jodi Minion, PETA’s Wildlife Biologist Cruelty Investigations Department who wrote the letter. “Terrified, animals often injure themselves in their frantic struggles to escape (many chew off their own limbs, toward this end), and those who escape suffer in agony from painful, debilitating injuries. Trapped animals can succumb to exposure, stress or attack by other animals.  These traps also pose a definitive risk to non-target wildlife and companion animals.”

The email from PETA includes a picture of a crow caught in a steel trap and refers commissioners to for more information regarding the traps and images of dogs who were ensnared by them.

“Further, trapping/removing animals in an attempt to control populations backfires,” Minion said. “Surviving pack members simply breed in order to replace lost family members, and more wild animals will move in from outlying areas to use available resources. These methods also tear animal families apart, and leave young to die from starvation/dehydration.”

PETA included a list of recommendations to keep nuisance animals out of neighborhoods such as keeping trash and compost sealed, keeping chickens and other small farm animals in enclosures, installing motion activated sprinklers, flashing lights and radios and trimming vegetation along paths and yards to reduce available hiding places.

The letter also said predators can be evicted from dens by introducing ammonia-soaked rags and strict wildlife feeding prohibitions should be enforced.

“For the sake of wildlife and companion animals alike, we respectfully ask that you oppose the use of steel-jaw (including rubber-coated/padded) traps in Polk County by speaking out against H.B. 33,” Minion’s letter said. “Many jurisdictions like Polk County have banned steel-jaw traps for humane reasons; in fact, more than 80 countries have banned these cruel traps outright. Our office would gladly assist by offering information to the public and others about how to control unwanted wildlife humanely. Thank you for your consideration. May we hear from you?”

On Feb. 4, Polk commissioners heard in front of a standing room only crowd, from several residents who are against allowing trapping in Polk County. A petition has circulated against trapping and received more than 230 signatures from Polk residents.

Those for trapping say Polk has a problem with nuisance animals, particularly beavers and coyotes. Beavers are causing flooding and property damage in several areas and coyotes kill farm animals and small pets, those for trapping said. Those against trapping say it’s inhumane to let any animal suffer in a trap and non-targeted animals, including pets get caught in traps.

Emmy Summers, who organized the petition, said she was surprised that commissioners didn’t do or say anything during the Feb. 4 meeting. She said alarm bells are going off with her because it seems like the bill is being rushed.

She urges people no matter what their opinion to contact the governor today.

“I have 30 people committed to call,” she said, “and I have 60 who I know will call.”

In response to why commissioners didn’t discuss or take any action following public comments on the bill, Polk commissioner chair Michael Gage said his decision has been made.

Gage said the county had professionals come to the Jan. 7 meeting who presented a need in the county and that need is still there.

“The need is still there and I’m behind it,” Gage said. “It might not be popular but that’s my decision.”

The issue has also grabbed the attention of UNC-TV, who has requested an interview with Stuart Evans, one of Polk’s residents who spoke at the commissioners’ meeting.

Evans said UNC-TV has called her twice, but she is waiting to get final resolution from commissioners on whether or not they are going to work with residents. Evans said she doesn’t want to misrepresent commissioners on UNC-TV but if the county does not work with residents, she will interview with the station.

Polk, Rutherford and Cleveland Counties, which are all included on the bill, are the only counties in the state that do not allow trapping of furbearers off the person’s property after a local bill was approved in 1975.

House Bill 33 was filed on Jan. 31 and passed its first reading in committee on Feb. 4. The primary sponsors of the bill are Chris Whitmire, Mike Hager, Tim Moore and Kelly E. Hastings.

Bills have to be approved by both the House and Senate and the governor prior to becoming law.

Those interested in contacting Governor McCrory’s office today with their opinion regarding House Bill 33 can call 919-733-5811.

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